Covid-19 once again makes the US "far away" from returning to normal life

Hopes of a return to normalcy have only just been rekindled in the United States, but have been extinguished as the number of deaths soars, hospitals fill up, and 47 percent of Americans are still unvaccinated.

A Covid-19 patient is treated at Ochsner Medical Center in Louisiana in August 2021. Photo Reuters
A Covid-19 patient is treated at Ochsner Medical Center in Louisiana in August 2021. Photo Reuters

Irony reality in America

A summer of falling cases and hopes that the worst of the Covid-19 epidemic has passed has come to an end as deaths soar, hospitals fill up and a bitter reality has to be accepted. We acknowledge that Covid-19 will still affect Americans' lives for the foreseeable future.

Vaccination rates in the US are increasing while the number of new cases is beginning to decline in some southern states hard-hit by the epidemic. However, with more than 160,000 new cases a day and 100,000 hospitalizations nationwide, this time of the United States is not much different from 2020. In Kansas, many state employees have had to return to work since far. In Arizona, where mandatory mask wearing is banned, thousands of students and teachers have been quarantined. In Hawaii, the Governor of this state implored tourists: Please do not visit.

"The irony is that everything went well in May and most of June causing us all, myself included, to talk about the end of this epidemic. We begin to enjoy life. But Within a few weeks, everything started to fall apart," said John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, Berkeley.

The resurgence in the number of Covid-19 cases leaves Americans tired, anxious and less certain about when normal life will return.

In recent days, the US has often recorded more than 1,500 deaths a day, worse than last summer, but still far below the peak of the winter epidemic. Although the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases nationwide has slowed in recent days and a series of progress has been recorded in the southern states and other regions, with millions of students returning schools for the first time since March 2020, public health experts say clusters of school cases are inevitable.

Vaccines are effective in preventing severe illness and death, but 47% of Americans are still unvaccinated, giving the Delta variant a chance to impact and disrupt daily life. . Most of the hospitalized patients and deaths are unvaccinated, health officials say, and these unvaccinated people are causing an increase in the number of current cases and burdening the health system. economic.

Normal life is getting further and further away

Previously, as the number of cases increased, the prospect of a vaccine led many people to believe that a return to normal life would be only a few months away, while wearing a mask or staying at home was a short-term investment to save money. towards this goal. However, the strains of the virus and the refusal of many Americans to receive the vaccine have made this hope increasingly dim.

In many states in the South of the United States, intensive care units are overwhelmed, while in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, where the number of Covid-19 cases continues to increase, governors struggling to cope with worse days in the coming weeks.

The question now is not how to eradicate Covid-19 but how to deal with it. Contrary to the early months of the pandemic, businesses are opening, children are returning to school and stadiums are starting to fill up. Across much of the United States, mandatory mask-wearing and new lockdowns have become schemes with no prospect of success.

A small number of Democratic governors in states like Illinois, Louisiana, and New Mexico have mandated that face masks be worn in indoor public places, but most governors from both parties have no plans to do so. . Several Republican-led states have banned local officials from imposing mandatory mask-wearing orders.

Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas, which has experienced an increase in the number of cases since the beginning of July, has little interest in requiring masks or imposing statewide restrictions.

"I want to avoid that at all costs," said Laura Kelly.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb also pointed out that vaccination, not the requirement to wear a mask, is the best response to the current increase in cases. Daily figures in the state show that Indiana has seen its number of cases quadruple since the beginning of August.

"I'm trying to do everything I can to give people the answer to this question and the answer is vaccination," Holcomb said.

The effects of the wave of infections caused by the Delta variant are increasing. Universities in Virginia and Texas have moved to online learning. A hospital in Kansas had to move a patient to Wisconsin because there were no more staffed beds nearby. Exhausted healthcare workers in North Dakota are being asked to work overtime.

The current wave may not be the last

Epidemiologists say the current US situation during this pandemic is "very fragile" and lessons from other countries show that there are almost no concrete answers for the way forward. The level of infection in India and the UK dropped sharply after the epidemic wave caused by the Delta variant, but the number of cases in the UK has started to increase again. In Israel, the Delta variant led to a spike in cases this summer, despite a country with a high vaccination rate.

In many parts of the United States, schools have begun to reopen, although children under the age of 12 are still not eligible for vaccines and wearing masks is not uniform. Vaccination rates are increasing, but 36% of American adults are still unvaccinated. Breakthrough cases in vaccinated people are becoming increasingly common, suggesting that vaccines are dwindling in effectiveness, though still highly likely to prevent severe symptoms.

Interviews conducted show that Americans are increasingly angry and dissatisfied with the current epidemic situation.

"We're still living like we didn't get the vaccine," said Stacey Hopkins, 58, a vaccinated person.

The return of restrictions, as well as mandatory regulations, has led to depression, especially among vaccinated Americans. While being fully vaccinated significantly reduces the risk of contracting Covid-19 or being hospitalized, federal authorities warn these people can still spread the virus to others if they get sick.

There will be no immediate stability during this pandemic and there is no guarantee that the current wave will be the last, experts say.

"I think there's a question everyone wants to ask, which is, can we go back to a time when Covid-19 no longer invades our time and lives as much as it does now?" Cory Mason, mayor of Racine, Wisconsin.

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